Women Who Run With the Wolves was written in 1992, by Jungian Psychologist Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, and has resurfaced in popularity due to Emma Watson’s noteworthy book club, Our Shared Shelf. As part of her work with UN Women, she decided to create a book club, to share and discuss books touching on all types of equality across the world. If you’re unfamiliar with her work as an ambassador and her stance on feminism, I highly suggest watching her speech to the United Nations here. It is a true testament to not only gender, but more importantly human equality.
Now this book, oddly enough, I found to be not at all about equality in a broad sense, but more about understanding and embracing our own feminine spirit on a deeply personal level. It imparts, through intercultural myths and stories, what it is to be a “wild” women and how to reconnect with our mystical and instinctual nature. The word “wild” is not at all like its common connotations of unruly or riotous, but rather means our origin, self, or soul.
“When women open the doors of their own lives and survey the carnage there in those out-of-the-way places, they most often find they have been allowing summary assassinations of their most crucial dreams, goals, and hopes. They find lifeless thoughts and feelings and desires; ones which were once graceful and promising but now are drained of blood.”
So what is your soul? Not in the literal sense of the definition, but what is YOUR soul? What breathes fire into your bones and leaves you daydreaming for time on end? This magical and at times complicated world is described by Dr. Estes as having entrances or doors. “The doors to the world of the wild self are few but precious. If you have a deep scar, that is a door, if you have an old, old story, that is a door. If you love the sky and the water so much you almost cannot bear it, that is a door. If you yearn for a deeper life, a full life, that is a door.” As we begin to understand and become better acquainted with the meaning behind each door, we become more equipped to nurture and protect that elusive spirit within us.
This deep-seated wisdom is outlined in fifteen chapters composed of tales that lend themselves to reviving each layer of our instinctual nature:
- Introduction – Singing Over the Bones
- The Howl: Resurrection of the Wild Woman
- Stalking the Intruder: The Beginning Initiation
- Nosing Out the Facts: The Retrieval of Intuition as Initiation
- The Mate: Union With the Other
- Hunting: When The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
- Finding One’s Pack: Belonging as Blessing
- Joyous Body: The Wild Flesh
- Identifying Leg Traps, Cages, and Poisoned Bait
- Homing, Returning to One Self
- Clear Water: Nourishing the Creative Life
- Heat: Retrieving a Sacred Sexuality
- Marking Territory: The Boundaries of Rage and Forgiveness
- Battle Scars: Membership in the Scar Clan
- La Selva Subterranea: Initiation in the Underground Forrest
In finishing this remarkable book, I can now see why Emma chose something so deeply personal and spiritual as one of her selections. In our own personal journey of returning to self, we not only begin to appreciate the feminine that is us individually, but also the feminine that is each other. And as we grow stronger, more joyous and aware as individuals, we do so as a collective, returning to the beautiful and unstoppable force that we are, yielding healers and creators and breathing life, love and passion into all.
Take ten minutes today, fuel your fire within.